by Sarah Taylor
If the idea of another night out in the week to attend a home group feels like a stretch in your busy schedule, then you are probably thinking about the sorts of home groups I have attended in my past where the bible studies were often dry and boring and followed by 20 minutes discussing a prayer shopping list.
The early church met in people’s homes and were the original home groups. The purpose of the meetings was to talk about Jesus’s teachings and to share together how they could live their lives and support one another to reflect the life of the teacher.
Whilst our lives in the 21st century are vastly different from those of the first Christians, the biblical principal of sharing the minutiae of life has not changed. That’s why I came up with the idea to call our new home groups ‘Encounter’ groups. An encounter is a surprise, or unexpected meeting and when we met as a home group, I would often encounter Jesus’s love and power through sharing with others. Each of us is made in His image and displays something of his character and love in a unique way to those around us.
Our new Encounter Groups launch this month and will focus both on diving deeper into God’s word, grappling with its meaning for our lives and on pastoral care for one another.
Each group will evolve differently with some spending more time in the word and others spending more time sharing and supporting one another in practical ways and in prayer.
As our church grows in number, it is vital that we have a pastoral network so that we can care for one another throughout the week.
With this in mind, every person in the regular congregation who does not attend a group will be affiliated to one for pastoral purposes. In each group, a pastoral coordinator will take on the role of keeping in touch with those who are not able to be in church regularly and making sure they are cared for.
We would encourage groups to communicate throughout the week, setting up group chats to share news and prayer requests and to dedicate time to meeting around a meal table, breaking bread together. These are the biblical principles of sharing our lives.
It is the prayer of the leadership team that, as we start to meet together regularly in this way, we will encounter Jesus in new ways and will deepen relationships with the Father and with one another enabling us to work together more effectively to serve the community.
As a footnote, if you enjoyed the monthly evening worship services that we held before the pandemic, look out for the imminent return for Encounter Worship evenings.